small things help

My wife has been telling me that we need to start making menus for our dinners, so that we could focus our grocery buying and have some idea what we’re doing when we go grocery shopping.

And she was right. I’ve started making a menu for the first two weeks of the new year. I’ve had to go grocery shopping once and it was instantly easier. I didn’t need much, but I knew what I needed. It was great. The trip was shorter than normal, it was more direct, it was less of a hassle. It was nice.

But that hasn’t been the biggest positive of the menu here in the first week of having some clue what I’m cooking for dinner every night. Not even close. What has been the biggest positive?

No stress.

It’s funny how stressful it can be just trying to figure out what I’m cooking for supper.The time spent looking through the kitchen cabinets, looking through the refrigerator, getting the ingredients together, etc. On the best days it was a minor stress. On the worst days it was a torture that dragged me down into a pit that sucked away my time and motivations. I hated and loathed it, which made me want to do it even less.

Which, of course, didn’t help. It just meant that I started looking later, trying to throw something together in short order to make sure there was something on the table that night. What should have been a simple act was coming to blow up my days.

Tonight, I am making butternut squash ravioli from butternut squash leftover from the butternut squash and black bean tacos that we had for dinner last night. A premade ball of pasta is sitting in the fridge waiting to be rolled out and put through the pasta maker. Dinner is not going to be overly easy or lacking in stress, but it’s a manageable stress, a planned stress. I know what’s happening and I’m ready for it. It’s an entirely different beast.

It’s a small thing, but it adds up. It removes a little bit of stress, frees up a little bit of time, offers a little bit of structure to the world. It helps. Small things can add up. Small things can lead to bigger things.

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